May 27, 2024

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Interview with Cecilie Grundt: The balance between intellect and soul in music is called the process of improvising: Video

Jazz interview with jazz saxophonist Cecilie Grundt. An interview by email in writing. – First let’s start with where you grew up, and what got you interested in music?

Cecilie Grundt: – I grew up in Stavanger, a city located on the southwest coast of Norway. I used to live at a nice place called Madla, together with my mom, dad, and my little sister. My father enjoyed listening to both classical and jazz, Dexter Gordon, Mozart, Beethoven and Charlie Parker, among others. I started playing the alto saxophone in Madlamark School Band, and I took lessons at the Stavanger Performing Arts School. I also enjoyed singing and dancing.

JBN: – How did your sound evolve over time? What did you do to find and develop your sound?

CG: – When I was younger I wasn’t consciously trying to create my own sound. Back then I was mostly interested in trying to learn from the musicians and composers who inspired me, Wayne Shorter, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane. Even today I am not sure that I have found my own sound yet, I am still searching for it.

JBN: – What practice routine or exercise have you developed to maintain and improve your current musical ability especially pertaining to rhythm?

CG: – I have always used my ears, singing and clapping as important tools. When I was younger I practiced daily with a metronome and I also transcribed a whole lot of music. My practice routine has always been goal orientated to improve my skills, for instance phrasing and time. I use to record my music a lot.

JBN: – Which harmonies and harmonic patterns do you prefer now? You’re playing is very sensitive, deft, it’s smooth, and I’d say you drift more toward harmony than dissonance. There is some dissonance there, but you use it judiciously. Is that a conscious decision or again, is it just an output of what goes in?

CG: – Drifting toward harmony is the most natural thing to do for the ear, so I have to train myself doing otherwise. I like that my playing is melodic, and when I compose for my bands I try to use different harmonies to tell a story and to create a certain atmosphere.

JBN: – How to prevent disparate influences from coloring what you’re doing?

CG: – I trust my own intuition, heart and spirit.

JBN: – What’s the balance in music between intellect and soul?

CG: – I think the balance between intellect and soul in music is called the process of improvising. I have to know my material so well that I can free myself and let the subconscious take over.

JBN: – There’s a two-way relationship between audience and artist; you’re okay with giving the people what they want?

CG: – I don’t know what people want, because people like different things. I just have to keep doing what I try to do, and if everything works well within the band, like a conversation between friends, then the music becomes a nice experience for the audience too.

JBN: – Please any memories from gigs, jams, open acts and studio sessions which you’d like to share with us?

CG: – I remember playing in a local jazz club in Trondheim. This was probably our first gig in the city. When we played some of the open parts, the band started pushing the music in a direction that I wasn’t comfortable with. I have learned a lot trying to be open and respond to what is happening in the moment, rather than getting frustrated and self-conscious regarding to how I want to sound.

JBN: – How can we get young people interested in jazz when most of the standard tunes are half a century old?

CG: – There is so much more to jazz than a hundred year old standard tunes, but there are also many good qualities in old music, we just have to get young people to appreciate it. I have recently begun to invite young people to my concerts.

JBN: – John Coltrane said that music was his spirit. How do you understand the spirit and the meaning of life?

CG: – I don’t think my relation to spirituality and religion is as strong as Coltrane’s. But I can relate in some ways, because playing music sometimes feels like a meditative state of mind. Music is an important part of my life, bringing energy.

JBN: – If you could change one thing in the musical world and it would become a reality, what would that be?

CG: – I wish that jazz music had a bigger place in people’s hearts.

JBN: – Who do you find yourself listening to these days?

CG: – Wayne Shorter, Bartók, Stravinsky, Ornette Coleman, among others.

JBN: – What is the message you choose to bring through your music?

CG: – Maybe the message is that we can all be a part of something that is bigger than ourselves if we continue to be curious and open minded.

JBN: – Let’s take a trip with a time machine, so where and why would you really wanna go?

CG: – I would go back listening to John Coltrane in the late 1950’s.

JBN: – I have been asking you so far, now may I have a question from yourself…

CG: – What do you think is your most important task as a jazz journalist?

JBN: – Thanks for answers. Determine the intelligence of musicians, reviews new recordings, remind about the development of jazz and so on …

JBN: – So putting that all together, how are you able to harness that now?

CG: – I will continue to do what I’m doing, be open minded, learn from others, and keep on being true to myself and my music. I will always aspire to promote jazz and everything it offers, and share the spirit of jazz with people.

Interview by Simon Sargsyan

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